Stressed about work? We’ve all been there.
For me, alternating being self-employment and scrappy startup environments has made stress a permanent fixture in my life. And being that we’re in the midst of a pandemic that has shaken our world, changed the way we work, and created a far more uncertain job market, I know that I’m not the only one who deals with it day in and day out. While stress is bad, sometimes it’s necessary to get you to the next great thing, and with that, here are ten ways to deal with anxiety to help you get to your own next great thing.
Acknowledge Your Wins
When you have a daunting to-do list, it’s all too easy to lose one’s self in what remains and forget to acknowledge the day’s successes. Instead of finishing one task and immediately moving onto the next, take a moment to congratulate yourself on the “win”. Whether it’s moving the task to the far end of a Kanban board, patting yourself on the back, or indulging in whatever you deem a suitable reward, taking the time to recognize what’s gone right will provide a better sense of fulfillment at the end of the day. You’ll feel more productive, more motivated, and ready to tackle another set of “wins” the next day.
Switching Up Your Environment Can Help in Coping With Stress
The age of COVID has given many people the novelty of remote work, but with this new work environment comes a new set of pitfalls. For many of us, the geographical distance between where we sleep and where we work is a matter of steps. Whether your commute is walking to the other side of the bedroom or … all the way downstairs, it’s important that you make a conscious effort to switch up your environment throughout the day. While the world is at varying states of “open-ness”, we can all take a few minutes now and again to go for a walk outdoors or simply sit outside and breath in the fresh air. Our homes begin to feel like prison cells when every aspect of our days are confined to these familiar spaces, and that only perpetuates any stress being felt from work.
Choose a Cutoff Time and Write
Working yourself raw until the early hours of the mornings will only decrease your productivity for the following day and impact your health in not-so-fun ways. If you have a seemingly unending task list, it’s important that you choose a hard cutoff time each night. When the clock strikes your designated hour, close your laptop, pull out a notepad, and write down any things that are causing you to be stressed about work. Doing this both symbolically and literally cleans mental strains from your head and enables you to “shut off”, get a good night’s sleep, and pick up the next day.
Use a Five-Step Problem-Solving Approach
The five-step is a time-tested problem-solving methodology, used by the likes of everyone from preschool teachers to venture capitalists. When you have a seemly insurmountable task list with to-do’s of similar priority, implement the following formula to cast a light on where the true priorities lie.
- State the goal(s)
- Identify the problems
- Diagnose those problems
- Devise solutions
- Execute based on those solutions
It may seem simple, but following the above formula on paper can help you see solutions and paths that weren’t clear prior.
State the Worst-Case Scenario
This strategy does not work for everyone, but for some, identifying and mentally preparing for the *realistic* worst-case scenario (this is not the time to concern one’s self with asteroid threats) lessens anxiety and amplifies “wins”. For some, this strategy will only add to existing stress, so it’s important that you reflect upon your own tendencies prior to implementing this approach.
Focus on the Present
This takes a little bit of discipline to be able to do this consistently and effectively, but it helps immensely. We bog our minds down by dwelling on past mistakes and worrying about future hardships. As the old adage says, “when you worry, you suffer twice”. It’s all too true, and to avoid this trap, it’s important to train yourself to fixate on the present, at least during times of stress. Meditation and yoga can help to instill the clarifying techniques, and if your mind is running away towards an uncertain future, try identifying three objects in the room or space around you. Ask yourself what they’re called, what their purpose is, and why they’re there. This is a good grounding technique to bring your mind back and focus on the tasks at hand.
Get Some Exercise
Not only will this one contribute to point number two of this post, but it’s also a universally good technique for introducing some much needed dopamine into your head and alleviating stress. If you’re not a big exerciser, this doesn’t have to be a six mile run or some lung-collapsing HIIT workout. Something as simple as an unplugged 30-minute walk will help immensely and provide similar benefits. Stepping away for a moment and getting the blood pumping may also promote new ideas and solutions that you would not have seen sitting at the same desk all day. Exercise is also an easy way to introduce a way to achieve “wins” in another aspect of life. Even if work isn’t going as you’d like, you can always run an extra mile, do an extra ten pushups, or lift 10 extra pounds and achieve a sense of accomplishment in this sphere instead.
Stressed about work and don’t think you can find the time for a quick workout? Check out our post listing clever ways to sneak exercise in throughout the day.
Tomorrow, Next Month, Next Year…
If you’re woefully stressed about one thing in particular, ask yourself the following questions in relation to the consequence of failure:
How will this affect me tomorrow?
How will this affect me next week?
Next five years?
Next 10 years?
Chances are, the impacts felt long-term will be nominal, if they exist at all. Even if the implications in the near term are less than desirable, accepting the fact that your worries do not pose long-term implications to your well-being make the short-term discomforts much more bearable.
Accept Your Failures… Past, Present, and Future
The beauty of being human is that we’re never done learning. No matter how many degrees you have, how many years of experience, clients won, tasks completed, countries visited … we are never done learning. And thusly, we are never done failing. To fail is to learn, and it’s a natural phenomenon that should be embraced and celebrated. This doesn’t mean that you don’t try your hardest every time to succeed, but when you do fall short, you can take solace in the fact that you learned and improved yourself that much more.
To preface this tip, we don’t recommend using supplements as a replacement for internal stress conditioning tactics, but supplements are often helpful in augmenting those initiatives. Our first recommendation is Kava tea. This licorice-tasting tea has been used for centuries as a solution for alleviating stress and anxiety, and it still works wonders to this day. Trying sipping on it during the day, or enjoy a cup right before bed. Another, more recent suggestion, is to dive into the big, wide world of CBD and Delta 8 supplements. This industry is not regulated by the FDA and no claims can be made as to the benefits of CBD, but many consumers have reported using these products to alleviate anxiety. Be sure to purchase from a reputable provider with proven customer reviews.
Nobody likes to deal with stress, but it’s an ever-present part of the human experience that propels us forward. If we teach ourselves to deal with it in healthy ways, we can leverage it to get to that next big thing.